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Use Gel Stain or Gel Varnish?

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  • Use Gel Stain or Gel Varnish?

    I am getting ready to finish some woodwork. I am uncertain if I need to use gel stain or gel varnish. The wood is pine

  • #2
    Re: Use Gel Stain or Gel Varnish?


    Are you looking to color the pine, make it darker, look like another wood tone? If so, then a stain would do that. If however you are only looking to protect the wood, a coating of varnish, like polyurethane would be your best bet.

    From my experience, penetrating stain doesn't always work well with closed pore woods, especially pine, as pine is too often filled with pitch. A gel stain would probably be best, but perhaps some more experienced craftsman will jump in here.

    Regarding "gel varnish", I am not aware of that product class, but there are so many finishes, varieties, that it could be I've just not seen it yet. You should be aware that oil-based polyurethane with give most woods a warmer, amber tone. Water-based polyurethane will be quite clear, more glass like. You will also need to decide whether you want a gloss or a matte finish.

    I hope this helps,

    Last edited by CWSmith; 10-08-2007, 02:22 PM.


    • #3
      Re: Use Gel Stain or Gel Varnish?

      Gel Varnish I use all the time.It works great on so far on, Maple, Oak ,Poplar,Birch and Cherry. Bartleys makes a real good one.
      This is if you want a clear coat. I also reccomend a bit of steel wool #0000 after second coat to get it smooth then apply a third coat.


      • #4
        Re: Use Gel Stain or Gel Varnish?

        Originally posted by marla View Post
        I am getting ready to finish some woodwork. I am uncertain if I need to use gel stain or gel varnish. The wood is pine
        Marla, I don't think we have enough info. It would help to know how the wood is prepped (sanded), if it is all Southern Yellow Pine, (labelled SYP at the wood store), Spruce/Pine/Fir (SPF), Pine plywood, Arauco (Lowes brand) plywood, or a combination. Are you wanting to significantly change the color, match it to something else, or keep it looking close to natural? Are you wanting the final finish to look natural or shiny?

        I see you are in North Carolina. Another site where you can get a wealth of help is A very friendly group of talented ladies and gents.

        Another option to stain is the tinted varnishes like Minwax Polyshades. Put a coat of clear varnish or sealer on the pine first to prevent the tinted varnish from soaking into the more porous spots on the pine. This will help you to get an even color throughout the whole piece. As CWS said, pine can be tricky due to the resin, and also because the wood can have varying porosity, giving it a blotchy look when stained. With the influx of South American and Asian pine, particularly in the plywoods, the different species can make finishing a real challenge when you combine solid wood with the ply.

        Good luck and I hope this helps you get an answer

        Practicing at practical wood working